Ever gotten irritated about something small and took out your frustrations on someone who didn’t deserve it? Well if you haven’t, I have…and I just did, and I felt like crap about it. Here we were having a whole mother-son moment making brownies when I saw a half-eaten chicken wing in the trash, and I got annoyed. I thought back to the day before when I talked to Tre about trying not to waste food and showed him all of the extra meat he was leaving on the wingette. After I dumped the shells from the eggs he just cracked and he started to stir the brownies, I reminded him of our ‘wing conversation’ and he responded with cutting me off and doing that high-pitched whine kids do. My reaction? I snapped. Now before you go getting an image of me ‘knocking him into next week,’ fall back. I didn’t. Honestly, my reaction was not extraordinary; it was quick and the shock of it all is what threw Tre into tears and had me feeling like sh*t. He walked off to his room and after a few minutes I went back and asked him if I could sit down.
What happened next? I apologized for my reaction and, instead of telling Tre how overwhelmed I’ve been working, mom-ing, cleaning, wife-ing, activity-ing, and working some more, I told him my reaction was extra and I didn’t have to respond that way. He looked at me, said it was ok and again, I told him it was not ok; I could have, and should have responded differently. We sat in silence for several minutes and I asked him what he was thinking. He shrugged. I asked him how he was feeling and that’s when the emotions poured out of him. “I’m worried and I’m confused.” As much as I was sitting there thinking, “Dang it Krystal you’ve messed the boy up for life, he went on to tell me he was worried about how much longer we would have to be at home because of COVID and he was confused about it all. Through his tears he let it all out that he’s tired of being at home, he misses school, the news stresses him out (when he hears it) and he misses being around people. [See COVID-19: Helping Kids Cope and #BlogRecap video]
What happened after that? We sat on Tre’s bed for another 10-minutes while I rubbed his arm and told him I was impressed with how well he’s been handling 10 whole weeks of being at home. I’ve seen him be super brave and courageous in the face of an unknown virus that has claimed the health and lives of friends, colleagues and family members, plus having his 8th birthday plans postponed, and maneuvering online learning better than I could have at his age. I’ve seen him make the best out of all of this with humor, sweet gestures, corny jokes and lots of patience with his Dad and I as we fulfill our professional responsibilities behind a computer all day, and, sometimes into the evening. He looked up at me with a face that just melted my heart even more. Then we sat there in silence some more. I was careful not to pacify him with ideas that we’ll be back to ‘business as usual’ very soon. Instead, I asked him for additional ways his Dad and I could help him. I’m a slower processor so I was not surprised when he said he wasn’t sure.
How it all ended? I suggested we continue doing fun things as a family and that Tre and I get out of the house more for a change of scenery. I offered that we pick a definite day (or two) where we go for a walk, play outside, go for a drive or something. He agreed. After we finished talking the brownies got finished, my husband and friends listened to me share a very raw and honest moment, and after I almost burned dinner twice, I let Tre read all of this. He grinned, nodded and said it was good. Well alrighty then!
What I learned? A whole lot.
- Regardless of how I feel, losing my cool with my kid is not ok
- When I’m wrong I should, and will, admit it and apologize
- Frustration can build and grow into a fierce mountain
- Reflection and honesty are key to becoming a better parent
Honestly, part of this is cathartic for me, and it helps me process. I know I’m not alone in losing my cool and overreacting. I know I’m not alone in apologizing for mistakes in parenting. And I know I’m not alone in having moments I wish I could take back. It is an understatement to say being at home for 10 consecutive weeks has been a lot. It’s been a whole lot. And while I don’t know how much longer the stay-at-home order will be in effect, what I do know is this- I am not going to allow my frustration to get the best of me. –krystal